In August 2008, Elaine Hayde made a move that changed the course of her life.
Four years later, she has secured permanent residency, is engaged to her Australian fiancé and is working as a project geologist in a gold mine.
Before moving to Australia, Ms Hayde lived in Urlingford, a town close to Lisheen Mines and Galmoy Mines. Growing up in a mining heartland, Elaine became interested in the industry. She completed her Geology studies in University College Cork in 2008 but said she found it difficult to secure a role initially.
“I applied for exploration jobs in Galmoy and underground jobs in Lisheen, but I had no luck,” Ms Hayde explained.
“We had a lady come in from a recruitment company to talk about mining jobs in Australia. I had to do behavioural tests and sit an interview.
“She said that a company was interested in hiring me. I had a phone interview – three days later I was offered the job and a week after that, I was on a plane to Australia.”
Another girl in the year below her secured a role with the same company. The two girls, who vaguely knew each other, met in the airport and made the journey to Western Australia.
The girls arrived in Perth and four days later, she was transported to a mine site. Having never worked in a mine before, she said that the overall experience was a bit of a shock.
Elaine has spent the last six months working as a project geologist for Gold Fields Australia, a gold mining company based near Perth.
Her roles involves working on grade control models and training mine geologists. She says this particular role involves a lot of surface work but that it is not uncommon to spend a whole day underground.
“We need to take samples off the rock face to determine the grade. We could take up to 20 samples and have to carry them back to the Ute. It’s very hot and very humid down there. It’s not uncommon to pass out- it’s a hazardous workplace.”
Despite the ‘physical’ and ‘intense’ conditions, Elaine says the role has probably become easier since she started.
“When I started my first role, I had to walk everywhere as I couldn’t drive underground. I had to drag the samples with me everywhere!” Even though conditions are difficult, Elaine says she is seeing more women working as geologists in Australia.
“Most of the department here are female – the women are taking over more and more.
“I suppose this is because the work is a little easier and less labour intensive, compared to what the engineers and the labourers do. Elaine points out that being a female in a male-dominated industry certainly has its advantages.
She says that the men tend to listen when she gives an instruction. She also revealed that the men tend to help out if she has stopped to change a tyre.
“The men here are mostly nice. It’s the different personalities in people that you have to look out for.”
She has since secured her permanent residency, but says the process was quite difficult.
“I started looking into it two years ago. I wanted to know what the options were but I thought it would be easy, as I had a job and an in-demand skill. My first attempt at getting the visa was unsuccessful, as you needed three years experience and I only had two. For my second attempt, I tried to get sponsorship with the mine I was working with but they (the company) wanted too much for it. The third time, I attempted it alone. I got a visa agent, who was very good, did all the paperwork and got the visa.”
She says that the first two attempts would have cost around $4,000 and that the final attempt cost about $5000, but she has no regrets.